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Joe’s Guide to Free eLearning Tools: Pixton – Interactive Comic Creator July 21, 2009

Posted by jmullock in e-Learning Tools.
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Item: Pixton – Interactive Web Comic Creator

Category: Graphic Tools & Resources

I never had more than a passing interest in comic books when I was growing up, but several years ago I picked up a book called “Understanding Comics: The Invisible Art,” by Scott McCloud.  Fans of the genre will recognize the name, but at the time it was random reading material to me.  As I discovered, the book is an excellent explanation of the form, function, and history of comic art – done entirely in the graphic format it so aptly describes.  It really made me appreciate the art and efficiency of the medium.

What does this have to do with eLearning?  Well, many of the challenges are the same:

trying to express information, action, location, and time changes in as efficient and engaging a way as possible using a set space (a comic panel vs. a slide or screen).  In many ways, “Understanding Comics” is as good reference for eLearning and web design as it is a treatise on comics.

Presenting eLearning in actual comic format is not the most common technique (at least in my experience), but why not?  At least in my case, a clear lack of drawing talent stands in the way.  All of which brings us to Pixton—a web-based product which allows you to create comics without having to draw.

What it Does:

Pixton allows you to “drag-n-drop” elements to create comic panels, and is organized into three basic starting points:  Quickie, Regular, and Large Format.

  • “Quickie” allows you to create a scene based on pre-designed elements.  You start by selecting a background scene (office, park, home, etc.), a character, and then speech or thought bubbles.  This may seem limiting, but organized edit capabilities allow for a wide range of options.  Graphic elements that can be changed or edited include background, props, visual character traits, clothing, facial expressions, poses, colors, and zoom levels within the panel.
  • “Regular” allows you all of the editing capability of “Quickie”, but provides you with a blank panel to allow you to start from scratch.
  • “Large Format” is the same as “Regular” but–as the name suggests–is geared towards single panel constucts.

Multiple languages are supported, and tagging, privacy, and embedding options allow you to direct the material to your intended audience.  While not currently available, the next big feature to be released appears to be comic animations(!)

When to Use:

I am looking forward to exploring Pixton further, but it seems like it could have some very interesting applications.  It looks like it could be really useful in illustrating conceptual material, portraying office interactions, basic visual “demonstrations”, or for use to provide “side-bar” content within a more traditional eLearning design template.  I’m sure anyone who tries out the site with a thought towards eLearning will come up with several more possibilities.

For an example of using Pixton for instruction, you need look no further than one of the tutorials on the site which provides tips on creating a basic scene.

How to Get:

Pixton is a web-based tool that runs under multiple operating systems (Windows, MAC, Linux).  There is nothing to download, although you will need to be sure that you have flash installed on your machine.  Minimal information is required to create a Pixton account, which can be done by going to:

http://pixton.com/

Final Note:

If anyone reading this blog takes Pixton for a test-drive, please let me know your thoughts.  I am really looking for an excuse to make use of this tool, and would love to hear feedback from others!

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Comments»

1. Clive - July 24, 2009

Hi Joe,

Thank you for your kind words about Pixton.

We’re adding new and innovative features all the time and always welcome feedback – feel free to contact us with your comments or suggestions.

Have fun on Pixton!

Best wishes,

Clive Goodinson
Creator of Pixton


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